Six months ago, I sketched out a quick outline of this story. Here’s the first draft of the first few paragraphs:
The girl stopped to make a note on her order pad before she walked away from the table full of businessmen. She had her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth as she wrote; this only accentuated the cuteness of the rest of her. All the men weren’t even bothering to hide that they were staring at her butt.
She finished, looked up at them, then her perfect eyebrows went up in surprise. “Why, Mr. Jenkins! Haven’t seen you in forever! Where have you been?”
Jennifer stifled a smile as she watched Frank’s chest puff up. “Hey there, Claire. Jennifer here has been introducing me to all this crazy Asian cuisine up and down Buford Highway. Real good; but I tell you, all that spicy food gives me strange dreams.”
She actually put a hand up to cover her mouth when she giggled. “But it’s all so delicious.” She turned to Jennifer. “Welcome to Indigo. I’m Claire; it’s nice to meet you.”
“Jennifer Welch.” Up close, Claire was a little too old for pigtails; maybe thirty-two instead of the twenty-four she aspired to.
“What’s new in the wine cellar?” asked Frank. He and Claire launched into a long discussion of of various wines’ attributes, each person more animated than the other.
Claire noticed the glaze on Jennifer’s eyes first. “Not much of a wine snob? Really, it’s a point in your favor.”
“I’m a schoolteacher. Most of the wine I drink comes out of a box.” She got the giggle and the covered mouth again.
“I’m sorry, babe,” said Frank. “I forget not everyone’s as crazy as me.”
“I don’t mind; order whatever you want.” And it was delicious, all buttery and not sour at all. Jennifer threw her wavering commitment to vegetarianism to the wind and ordered a steak. Good thing Indigo was the kind of place so classy it had a girlfriend menu, without prices, or she’d probably feel guilty.
While Frank was in the bathroom, Claire came by to pick up their salad plates. “I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”
“It’s fun to see Frank in his element.”
“Well, I’m happy for you. It’s nice to see Frank starting to get serious.” At Jennifer’s confusion, “I mean, you’re actually age-appropriate. You’re what, late thirties?”
“Just turned forty.”
“Most of the women—well, girls—Frank’s brought in here are about twenty-five, and wear about half as much clothing as you. He’s very handsome for an older guy, but come on.” Jennifer toyed with her wine glass for a minute or so after Claire walked away, before deciding that Claire was genuine and not trying to put her down.
So the point here is to show rather than tell that Claire isn’t just a perfect little pixie–or rather, that Claire appears to be both a perfect little pixie and something a little deeper. The first half of the citation gives us the perfect pixie, and the second half the (apparent?) depth. So far, it’s clumsy: the first paragraph especially needs work. But that’s just part of the process.